My 8-year-old niece and I were sitting for a few minutes waiting for her sister to finish up. Before she could sigh in frustration, I handed her Unbored Games and told her to open it to a random page. Now this was taking a huge chance. The book is chock full of instructions, illustrations, and easy to follow guides to over 70 games, but they aren’t all indoors, under ten minutes, and for two people to play. Luckily, she opened up to a page detailing a few hand-clapping games. Perfect! We learned some silly rhymes, and tried to keep a rhythm together with snaps and claps. By the time her sister was ready, we were both laughing.
Unbored Games by Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen begins with a rundown of why games are important. That’s right! Games aren’t just something to fill the time, or only do at parties. All their reasons are legit, but I like these three the best:
“Gaming encourages you to develop skills and expertise, by practicing something over and over. More importantly, gaming challenges you to teach yourself how to do something.”
“Gaming teaches you that your environment is modifiable. You realize that everyday life is a puzzle to be solved: the more difficult the obstacles, the more fun you’ll have figuring out how to beat them.”
“Jumping in and making mistakes is the fastest way to learn how to play a game. Not worrying about being perfect, and just trying your best, is known as ‘fun failure.'”
The book is divided into four chapters:
PWNAGE: This is what most people think of as games, like board games, back-of-the-classroom fun, and dice and card rules. But there are also “secret rules” games, app recommendations, and more.
HOMEGAMES: Whether for a simple family night or a big party, there is entertainment in these pages. There are even games for the car. I especially enjoyed the section on croquet. My family plays croquet often (really!), and the variations mentioned look intriguing.
GAME CHANGERS: These aren’t your typical ones. Online activities to fight climate change, “guerrilla kindness” in your neighborhood, and a list of cooperative board games to mention a few. I really liked the outdoor, big group game “Survive! Predator and Prey.”
ADVENTURE GAMES: The final section has plenty of ideas to create your own fun indoors or out. There are photographic instructions on how to build a rocket, for example. And a whole section on LARP (Live Action Role Playing).
Within each chapter of the book are short histories of gaming, and suggestions on how to modify, vary, or hack any and all the games presented. The illustrations are in a likable, quirky style, and all the instructions are clear.
Regardless of age, there are games in the book that will interest anyone. Whether you work with kids, have kids, or are a kid yourself, I recommend Unbored Games!
Geekmom received a copy for review purposes.